We woke to a grey morning, and commenced our cruise south to Crafty’s, arriving at around 9:00am. As we approached, Glenn said “This looks like my height!”. Piper winked at me knowingly. As we dropped anchor, a light rain began to fall. You’re kidding aren’t ya? All the photos I’ve see are of sunny gorgeousness and people in bikinis. With a waterfall coming off the right side of the cliff, we’d need to be committed.
It was a bit of a slow start as we waited for the rain to abate. I went fishing for a while (two bream on plastics), then returned to psyche up the troops. The wall itself, capped by roofs was dry, but it would be impossible to top anything out as the top three metres of the cliff was saturated.
The true believers (Glenn, Erik, Sam and I) boarded the Stiltskin and cruised across to the wall as Piper and Sheree settled down on top deck under the canopy. As we got underneath it, the true size and scope of the venue impacted on Glenn, who was forced to retract his earlier bravado. We climbed up the slick muddy moss and barnacles on to the starting ledge and dried our shoes.
The crew enjoyed the right to left traverse which gets gradually more difficult. After one false start and a downclimb (not a splashdown), I punched up Glassy 24/5 and sat at half height on the cliff recovering. Bets were laid as to the first person to hit the drink. I think most of the money was on me, but Sam bombed and the punters cheered. I finished up the finale of Piscean Passage 20 but couldn’t top out in the rain, so I psyched myself up and jumped from ¾ height, perhaps 10m up. Scary stuff, but I image you’d become accustomed to it after a while.
Team Upskill on the wall as the rain comes down. I'm in blue, high on Piscean Passage 20 © J Piper 2009
Erik, Glenn and me all tried the left to right traverse but all snapped off – the damp rock was greasy and slick. I finished up by doing most of Aquarius 22, but not the very top which gives the grade. The rest though were the nicest moves I did on the wall. Great cut-looses on juggy flakes. Then it was back to the boat for hot showers to warm up.
That afternoon, the plan was to cruise north and east to Eagle Rock, but we happened to get sidetracked along to way by a nice, smooth wall 10-15m high near Square Bay. Piper sifted through his notes and determined this was Flat Rock, climbed on 30 years ago by members of the Wondabyne Climbing Club. A line of lovely orange scoops was visible straight up the main wall, and even though dusk wasn’t far away, I grabbed the bolting gear and forged up through the bush. I managed to get the line bolted just as night fell.
Today we woke up to a thick white mist and near zero visibility. This soon burned off to a beautiful sunny morning. We grabbed the trad gear, jumped in Stiltskin and hit the crag. I raced up the new route, doing more cleaning as I went to create Flathead Second Cast 20, in honour of the fish I’d picked up yesterday. The crux was a dynamic throw from an undercling and incut crimp to a big pocket. The slightly shorter girls struggled mightily with this move and tried in vain to discover a ‘girl method’, while the monster Erik calmly reached through statically. It was a bit of a bloodbath for Sam who smacked the back of her hand on the dyno, and then proceeded to open two flappers.
The rest of the cliff had some attractive cracklines on it, so I racked up and reminded myself how to place trad on Mechanical Man 18, a Gladiator-style barndoory hand crack which came complete with a fixed hex and Half Hour In The Fo’castle 20, a fingertip crack corner which wasn’t in the guide. In fact, Mechanical Man was given 14 M1 in the original 1970s guide. Glenn bombed onto my green alien on both routes before topping out, and Erik was stuck with cleaning duty – “damn trad climbing!”
Once Piper had satisfied himself that he had pictures of every angle of the cliff for the upcoming guidebook, we cruised to Eagle Rock (wow!) and have moored in nearby Gunyah Beach. This is a gun night fishing spot, with us landing two hairtail, multiple bream and Piper getting stuck (literally) into some eel-tailed catfish.
Tomorrow we get to sample the jewel of Hawkesbury River climbing – Eagle Rock. Sweaty palms!